Late last year, New Belgium began a pilot program that would inadvertently become a business model thanks to the spread of COVID-19. The brewery announced they would begin shipping large format bottles considered “too niche” for distribution direct to consumers in Washington, DC, and a few other states. As none of us can drink on-premise or in bars and restaurants, shipping beer has become a viable option for more and more breweries, including many in Virginia.
As of now, Adroit Theory, Ardent, Aslin, Crooked Run, Hardywood, Lickinghole Creek, Pen Druid, Triple Crossing, The Veil, and Wheatland Spring all have a Shipper’s License from the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and in doing so may have stretched the definition of “local,” changing it from Loudon and Prince William counties to the state capital of Richmond and Henrico County. No doubt there will be more on the way. Breweries from further afield have also begun shipping programs to both the District and Virginia. Four Saints, Burial and Hi-Wire, from North Carolina, now ship to DC and NoVA, as do Ohio’s Hoppin Frog, Jackie O’s and Urban Artifact. Want Equilibrium’s (NY) sought-after hazy IPAs? They’re mailing, too, as are two San Diego breweries: California Wild Ales and Modern Times. But back to NY, you can buy some Sloop beers here through distribution, but they’ll ship their whole portfolio if you’re interested. The furthest away? At the moment it’s Ex Novo, from Portland, Oregon. But back to NY, Three’s Brewing is shipping to DC now, too. The midwest is getting in on the action, too, with MobCraft out of Wisconsin.
We at DC Beer ask that you please support your local, but we also understand the appeal of mixing it up. One more point in favor of a stricter definition of “local,” shipping beer isn’t cheap. Equilibrium charges a $30 flat rate and while other breweries aren’t as expensive, it’s hard to compete with the $5-$10 delivery fees many of us have become accustomed to over the last month or so from area breweries, bars, and restaurants. In any case, now you know your options, and as per usual, sorry Maryland. At least you have Bells now?